SRINAGAR: The Budget session of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly began on a stormy note today with Opposition National Conference and Congress disrupting the Governor’s customary Address and staging a walkout while protesting against AFSPA, “shortage of ration” and some other issues.
The Budget Session of J&K Legislature started on Tuesday with Governor NN Vohra addressing both houses of state legislature in Banquet Hall of SKICC.
The government criticised the opposition parties for such behaviour, saying they should have first listened to the Governor’s Address and then made their point in a democratic manner.
As soon as Governor N N Vohra rose to address the joint sitting of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, National Conference members started shouting slogans demanding revocation of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) imposed in the state.
They also demanded “adequate” supply of foodgrains to the people of the state and dismissal of Forest Minister Lal Singh for allegedly making threatening remarks against Gujjars in Jammu region last week.
The NC members shouted slogans like ‘AFSPA ko wapas karo’ (revoke AFSPA), ‘Bhashan nahi ration chahiyay’ (we do not need speeches, give ration) and ‘Lal Singh ko barkhast karo’ (dismiss Lal Singh).
The Congress members also were on their feet, alleging that the PDP-BJP coalition government has failed on issues like implementation of National Food Security Act and regularisation of daily wage workers in various government departments.
As the Governor refused to pay heed to the protests and continued his address, members of both the opposition parties later walked out.
However, Independent MLA from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid, who had joined the opposition protest, remained in the House and continued to shout slogans during Vohra’s speech.
Rashid, carrying a banner, wanted to know the fate of the magisterial inquiry into the killing of five youth in clashes between protestors and security forces in Handwara following alleged molestation of a girl last month.
“We want to know what happened to the inquiry into Handwara killings,” Rashid said.
As Vohra was reading out various schemes and welfare measures to be implemented by the state government, Rashid said, “You (Governor) do not represent us. You are a non-State subject. We are supposed to have an elected Sadr-e-Riyasat (president of the state)…You represent Delhi.”
The controversial MLA also told the Governor that he was “made to lie” by the government. “Not even one per cent of what you have been made to say is true,” he alleged.
The Legislative Assembly will now meet tomorrow for taking up obituary references while discussion on Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address will take place on Friday and Saturday.
Commenting on the ruckus, Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said it would have been better if the opposition had first heard the Governor’s address.
“It is very welcome that the opposition is trying to raise issues that they think are of public interest. But it would have been better if they had heard the address of the Governor and then made their point. That would have been more democratic,” Akhtar told reporters.
On the alleged anti-Muslim remarks made by Lal Singh, Akhtar said the minister has denied the remarks.
“Lal Singh has contradicted it and said he never made those remarks. And he has also very significantly said that even if this avoidable controversy has caused some hurt, he apologises for that. It should rest at that,” he added.
About the strike called by separatists tomorrow, Akhtar said such a thing was not happening for the first time.
“We have been living with this. We hope the people, who are the ultimate arbiters, see through this that certain people want to rake up issues that don’t exist, just perhaps to subvert the feeling of the positivity that has come back to Kashmir. Some economic activity has revived, tourism is seeing a boom. I think some people don’t like that,” he said.
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